Sweet Tooth Bolsters Heart Health

Even most tasty kinds of dark chocolate will lower blood pressure, study shows
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2007 5:06 AM CDT
Stacks of different types of large Hershey's chocolate bars are seen on a shelf in a downtown Pittsburgh candy store on Thursday, April 19, 2007.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – More sweet news for chocoholics: Small doses of dark chocolate—even candy-aisle favorites like Dove or Hershey's—may reduce blood pressure by 2-3 points, new research shows. The study, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests commercial chocolate can provide some of the same benefits as the high-flavanol lab concoctions tested in earlier studies.

Flavanols—chemicals found in cacao beans—are thought to reduce blood pressure by triggering the release of nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels and allows blood to flow more easily. Prior to this study, researchers had doubted the health benefits of commercial chocolate, since flavanols can be lost during the manufacturing process.